Veteran food journalist Marx de Salcedo delves into a previously obscure organization in the Boston suburbs that influences perhaps half the items for sale in supermarkets.
The organization, within the Department of Defense, is found on military charts as the Combat Feeding Directorate, which is part of the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center. The book, which includes astonishing facts in every chapter, stems partly from investigative journalism about food quality, partly from the author’s fascination with how she feeds her family (“I’ve always been a passionate home cook”), and partly from concern about the future of nutrition. The premise sounds simple: nourishment developed to feed combat troops in remote battle zones has come to dominate food consumed by American civilians. That truism, in the author's value system, becomes a mixed blessing. She wants troops to eat well, but she feels shaky about how the research has compromised the food supply outside war zones. Marx de Salcedo gained limited access to the Army facilities in Natick, and her account of the tour and her resulting analysis of highly technical scientific literature make for interesting, if sometimes laborious, reading. However, when she begins to apply what she learned to specific foods and preservation processes, readers will eagerly go along. The author devotes individual chapters to the development and consumption of energy bars, processed meats, bread, cheese, pizza, and plastic packaging. Marx de Salcedo comments that by discovering the military genesis of so many everyday supermarket items, "I've breached the secret, beating heart of the industrial food system." According to the author, current research by the scientists at Natick contains the potential to change eating habits entirely, including the traditional regimen of three distinct meals per day.
A well-researched effort that will undoubtedly add to general readers’ knowledge about the food they consume on a daily basis.